AGARTALA: The 23 members of poll strategist Prashant Kishor's I-PAC team, the alleged detention of which in the BJP-ruled Tripura led the Trinamool Congress to attack the saffron party, surrendered before a local court on Thursday, which granted them bail.
The Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) team has been camping in Agartala to assess the political situation and potential support base for the TMC. The police allegedly detained them in a hotel citing COVID norms on Sunday night.
Senior TMC leader and MP Derek O'Brien, who arrived in the state, alleged that the central leadership of the BJP is behind the incident.
Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate S B Das granted bail to the I-PAC team members, who were summoned to appear before the police on August one following registration of an FIR against them on Tuesday.
The police earlier said that the I-PAC team members will have to remain inside the hotel until their test report for COVID-19 is available. The reports came negative on Tuesday night. Their counsel Pijush Kanti Biswas said that a case against the state government will be filed for harassing them.
"The I-PAC team members arrived in the state with Covid negative reports. But they were put under detention before the FIR was registered which amounts to harassment," Biswas said.
Additional Public Prosecutor Bidyut Sutradhar said a complaint was filed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Sadar, against the team, which was registered at East Agartala police station under Section 188 of IPC (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and under the National Disaster Management Act.
"The investigating officer served them notice to meet him on August one. There was no apprehension of arrest. But still, they surrendered before the court, prayed for bail and the court granted them bail," Sutradhar told reporters.
SDPO (Sadar) Ramesh Yadav, said that as soon as the COVID test results of the 23 people came negative, they were freed on Tuesday night itself. "They were not detained but asked to stay in the hotel till the test reports are available. After receiving the test reports, some of them stepped out of the hotel on Wednesday," the police officer said.
Meanwhile, Derek O'Brien, senior Rajya Sabha MP of the TMC, said that the I-PAC team members hired by the party came here on a professional assignment, and alleged that they were detained by the Tripura Police on directions of the central leadership of the BJP.
"What message did (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi give from Delhi? They directed from Delhi to arrest the I-PAC team members. They are trying to impose the Gujarat model across India," O'Brien said.
He claimed that Modi and Shah are not allowing opposition members to speak in Parliament and at the same time they are trying to silence the opposition voice here. He said that the TMC leadership has asked some party MPs to come to Agartala from Delhi even when the Parliament session is on.
TMC MP Kakali Ghosh Dastidar has arrived here on Thursday while party general secretary and Lok Sabha member Abhishek Banerjee is scheduled to reach Tripura on Friday.